Mayor hopefuls discuss water, downtown, city salaries

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Mayoral candidates answered questions from an audience of about 30 at the a forum held Tuesday at Clovis-Carver Public Library.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis mayoral candidates are in it to win it.

The five mayoral candidates attending Tuesday’s forum said if they couldn’t win the March 4 election, they would not endorse another candidate.

It was one of a dozen questions posed to mayoral candidates at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Candidate Mario Martinez did not attend the forum because of a death in the family.

More than 50 people attended the forum hosted by the Home Builders Association of Eastern New Mexico and KRMQ-FM.

Other questions included what two projects the mayor candidates would start if approved by the City Commission, how they would address the blighted properties in downtown, what other water projects they would look into if the Ute Water project fails, and how they would address infrastructure projects, maintain salaries for city employees and stay within the city budget during a time when gross receipt taxes are down.

• Gloria Wicker said cleaning up the entrances into the city and finding an alternative water supply are the two projects she would work on if the commission allows her.

“It’s a disgrace what runs between Clovis and Cannon Air Force Base,” she said.

She said renovating the dilapidated buildings in downtown Clovis should be a joint effort between the city and the county.

Wicker, a former railroad employee, said she has been interested in a project that would replenish the Ogallala Aquifer with water from Lake Superior. The pipeline would run through seven states, she said.

She said not all city employees are equal, and some deserve higher pay for dangerous tasks and unorthodox hours.

• Rube Render said fixing city roads and the drainage system are the twoprojects he would start if the City Commission gave him the go-ahead.

Render suggested a state gas tax, which already exists, be reallocated toward road repair, which is its original purpose, instead of being used for other things, as is currently the case.

Render is a retired project manager for an aeronautics company.

Unless the city decides to use eminent domain to renovate dilapidated buildings in downtown, he said the city should protect property rights.

If the Ute Water Project fails, he said the city should look into updating its water treatment plant to produce drinkable water. He said the city should also look at desalination technology to use brackish water in aquifers under the state.

Render said the city should come up with an annual salary review for all city employees. However, when infrastructure clashes with increase in pay for city employees, the city’s roads come first.

• Rudy Kumar said his two projects would be the revitalization of Main Street and remodeling Hotel Clovis.

He said remodeling the hotel would bring upscale businesses to the city.

Kumar, a medical entrepreneur, said the city needs to be more aggressive in offering incentives for businesses to come to downtown and remodel dilapidated properties.

“There is a lot of state funding and low-interest loans for revitalization projects,” he said.

Kumar said he doubts the Ute Water project will happen because of the need for federal funding in a time of recession. He said the city should look into other sources of water, such as purchasing water rights from farmers. He said the city also has to be careful about recruiting water-intensive industries such as the Southwest Cheese plant.

Kumar said the city has to create a new source of income to pay for its infrastructure and city employees. He suggested establishing a national fire and police academy and a sports arena.

• Gayla Brumfield said the two projects she would work on is raising funds for the Ute Water project and fixing the city’s infrastructure, such as drainage and city roads.

“Without infrastructure, we can’t bring economic development,” said Brumfield, a Realtor.

She said economic development would increase the city’s revenues.

Brumfield said the city has to enforce ordinances to address the blighted properties in downtown and the city and county can work together on infill projects to rejuvenate the downtown area.

She said if the Ute Water project fails, the city should focus on conserving water through the effluent reuse pipeline project and by xeriscaping. She said the city should also look into desalination technology to use brackish water.

Brumfield said the decline in gross receipt taxes the city is experiencing is only temporary. In the meantime, she said the city needs to address the salaries of its employees and prioritize infrastructure projects.

• Tim Ashley said the two projects he would start would be the revitalization of downtown Clovis and establishing a unified government with the county.

“There would be an enormous amount of money saved by streamlining the government,” said Ashley, a Clovis business owner.

He said infill projects through a partnership between the city, the county and private developers could clean up dilapidated buildings in downtown Clovis. Through infill projects, he said the city would demolish properties and sell the land to developers.

If the Ute Water project fails, he said the city should look into purchasing water rights from the farmers.

Ashley said the city has to do wage reviews of its employees and compare salaries from other cities comparable to Clovis.

He said the deficit in gross receipt taxes the city is experiencing is temporary and he believes they will start to increase soon.